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"Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen" to Open at Kent State University Museum October 2

Posted Sep. 9, 2010

After a series of sold-out pre-opening events, Kent State University Museum will open its highly anticipated exhibition "Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen" on October 2, 2010. The exhibit, which closes Sept. 4, 2011, showcases the screen legend's performance clothes, which include stage and film costumes spanning Miss Hepburn's career, as well as apparel she wore for publicity purposes.

Katharine Hepburn is universally recognized among the greatest actresses of all time. She was nominated by the Motion Picture Academy a record 12 times in the best leading actress category and won four Oscars - for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981). This record has never been equaled.

"Katharine Hepburn has had a profound impact on American popular culture and fashion, and has influenced generations of women," said Jean Druesedow director of the KSU Museum and curator of the exhibit.

"On screen and off, she epitomized the modern American woman - smart, independent, active, honest, feisty, and outspoken. In terms of fashion, Katharine Hepburn blazed trails by popularizing slacks for women, wearing or adapting men's suits as women's apparel, and helping internationalize what is now called 'The American Style.'"

The museum acquired Miss Hepburn's performance clothes in 2008 from the star's estate. Before her death (2003), she had made clear her collection of performance clothes should be given to an educational institution instead of being sold at auction. The Kent State University Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums, and is known internationally for its costume and fashion collections. The result is a perfect fit.

"Katharine Hepburn's costumes were designed or overseen by some of the greatest 20th century designers for fashion, stage and film," said Ms. Druesedow, "Valentina, Adrian, Irene, Muriel King, Cecil Beaton, Coco Chanel, Walter Plunkett, Edith Head, Patricia Zipprodt, Jane Greenwood, Noel Taylor - it's an 'A' List all the way."

Though the collections' ownership is indisputable - they were literally hanging in Katharine Hepburn's closets - the museum had to correctly identify which movie or play the garments came from since they were untagged. Movie frames, stage stills and publicity shots of Miss Hepburn have helped immensely and will be displayed alongside the costumes.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, the costumes will be presented according to genre, with "screen" including film and television. A series of Miss Hepburn's iconic beige trousers, linen vests, and tailored jackets will be placed as guideposts through the exhibit. Highlights include:

  • Stage costumes from The Philadelphia Story and Without Love, as well as later Broadway shows Coco, West Side Waltz, and A Matter of Gravity.
  • Film costumes and publicity clothes include those from The Little Minister, Adam's Rib, The Iron Petticoat, Long Day's Journey Into Night, A Delicate Balance, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and The Lion in Winter.
  • Costumes worn in many of her later television movies, including her Emmy-nominated performance as the title character in Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry as well as her Emmy-winning performance in Love Among the Ruins.

For more information, call 339-672-3450, visit www.kent.edu/museum or go to the Kent State University Museum Facebook page.

About the Kent State University Museum

2010-11 marks the Museum's 25th anniversary year. Opened to the public in October 1985, the Kent State University Museum was founded with an initial contribution from New York dress manufacturers Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers. Their gift included 4,000 costumes and accessories, nearly 1,000 pieces of decorative art and a 5,000-volume reference library. Today the Museum's collections total more than 40,000 pieces and it holds one of the most comprehensive teaching collections of fashionable design from the 18th century to the present. Its eight galleries feature changing exhibitions of work by many of the world's great designers, and an extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts combine to give context to the study of design.

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For More Information Contact:
James Harris
H/L Communications
440-729-1426

For Media Only:

  1. Hi-res and low-res photos relating to the exhibit and Miss Hepburn are available upon request. Proper credit for specific photographic images: "Photography by Herbert Ascherman/Jeannette Palsa." Proper acknowledgement for any images and or ephemera supplied: "Courtesy of the Kent State University Museum."
  2. At the Oct. 2 opening, and continuing through the exhibition's duration, special programs and events on Miss Hepburn's influence on fashion, her life and artistry, stage and screen costume design, and the impact of the entertainment industry on fashion will be presented at the museum and throughout Northeast Ohio.
  3. To arrange a media tour, to request further information or images, or to schedule interviews relating to the exhibition or programming support it, contact James Harris at jharris@hlcommunications.com Office: landline 440-729-1426; cell 440-759-0075.